The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has agreed to hold regular exchanges with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and other representatives of Belarusian democratic opposition forces, following a fruitful exchange of views with Ms Tsikhanouskaya on 6 July. The Committee has invited the Secretary General to set up a “Contact group” within the Council of Europe, in co-operation with representatives of Belarusian democratic forces and civil society. The group will regularly report back to the Committee on its activities.
The Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, said: “As Presidency, Ireland has prioritised institutional support for those who wish to build a democratic and free Belarus, one that will work with its European partners to protect human rights and promote the rule of law.
“In June, I joined Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in addressing the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly. In July, at our invitation, she addressed the Committee of Ministers for the first time. Today’s decision allows for that engagement to continue on a more systematic basis.
“As Sviatlana put it, it will ensure more Council of Europe in Belarus, and more Belarus in the Council of Europe.”
On 17 March 2022, the Committee of Ministers suspended all relations with the authorities of Belarus as a result of the country's active participation in the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, the Committee decided to maintain and enhance relations with Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile.
Council of Europe launches regular dialogue with Belarusian democratic forces